I wrote this several months ago after reading portions of This Bridge Called My Back.
I sit on a quiet evening, at a white desk with a light, transparent curtain filtering out the summer sun with the scent of strawberries on my breath. In this space, I realize the world is imperfect. I am not, should not be the one to tell you about feminism. We should be hearing it from those who experience the harshest edges of this life. They are the ones who need be telling, who need to be talking. Am I qualified to write this? Am I enough? Who am I to say, demand anything from anyone?
I write this because Amazon just delivered my ordered feminist books written by women of color. Their covers simple, their language comforting, I tore into each one, fumbling, excited, completely unaware of anything except the feel of their legacy in my fingertips.
I wonder if I will fit. Will their words find me? Will I be loved between these pages? Will I finally, somehow belong, even if it just to a ghost speeches, to thunder that clapped before I was born?
For some reason, I begin remembering the way I used to sign letters. I would write “With you,” I thought this was the most intimate form of goodbye that I could muster. I had never known or witnessed anyone else to bid farewell and I often asked others Do you like it? I was always concerned with if it was acceptable. No one ever gave me a straight answer. I stopped writing, With You and went back to tradition Sincerely, Best, Much Love and hated signing my name to such commonality, such Insincerity, not MY Best, and it wasn’t ALL my Love, just much of it. But I never wrote With You again. I didn’t want to be over intimate, too much.
I opened Bridge and read a stirring letter from Gloria Anzaldua. My heart breaking off into pieces of joy with each resounding verbal explosion.
I thought my heart vanished for a moment when I read her signature farewell. She signed off:
Euphoric joy over such simple and trivial alliances can usher the outsider inside the room, away from the door, away from the cold air of isolation.
I am pacing, my self-doubt returning. My shelf is screaming, pleaing with me No More Books. Stop Buying your worth and knowledge! I close and lock the door, unpack groceries and eye Bridge. I put it down. I feel schizoid. Comfort. I need comfort. Quickly, pulling off my clothes and bra, my butt covered in my favorite underwear: a green dinosaur on the hip of coral satin. Falling in love with the soft sunlight streaming through the apartment windows. Do I write that I write naked? What would people think after such a disclosure? Who in the world would understand how I feel a sense of liberation when I feel the heat of a screen on my breasts, or loving the cool slick paper against my stomach? I almost reach for my shirt, but reach Bridge instead. Casually, without direction, the book opens itself.
Ah yes. Another letter from Gloria. It begins
Dear mujeres de color, companion in writing – I sit here naked in the sun, typewriter against my knee trying to visualize you.
It is at this moment that I no longer wonder if I am qualified, insane, misplaced. I have so much to say, it matters not in how I say it or in what attire I address the world. What matters is my voice, my ability to record what is happening in my lifetime, to note the progress, to annotate the struggles. It is at this moment that I am no longer fearful if I am accepted or acceptable. What I have to say is worth three rocks at the moon, and cupful of the ocean. What I am is worth more than my body, outlasting even the most beautiful meadows, and stronger than any quake. There will be interruptions. I do not know everything. I am so very human and real. True equality evades me, us, women of color, and I cannot pretend otherwise. The denial of such a truth is no longer passivity and reluctance, but swallowing and stirring the spoon of poison and evil.
Gloria, you saved me, with your nakedness and Contigo, you built a bridge before I was even conceived. And as I cross the bridge you built, I know you will accept what I have to say when I write that you were mistaken about something. You write We can’t transcend the dangers, can’t rise above them. We must go through them and hope we won’t have to repeat the performance.
I, we, the women of color of this generation are living through what you hoped would not come to pass again. But we are not afraid. I know the movement is far from over and my time has arrived to speak. My truth has been delivered. I would rather die than be silent anymore